Education, the young, and Chiz

. . . is the topic of my latest Trade Tripper column in this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld. Excerpts:

"The relationship of the teacher with the student should not be there with the object of hand-holding and letting him know that 'it’ll be alright.'

And this is where a number of teachers fail. There is just way too much gratification of egos and the self nowadays, self-expression has run amuck, and everybody wants to be treated as special, as an exception to the rule, as if the world owes him everything. Personally, I’ve witnessed a law school lecturer once tell his class, not for purposes of encouragement but for purposes of being labeled 'cool,' that the particular law subject they’re studying is easy and could be discussed while having a party. Unfortunately, the subject is not easy and to unduly raise the ego of those students without their having done anything yet is doing them a disservice.

The teacher-student relationship (along with the parent-children relationship) is there to inculcate on the student the things that must be done, the habits and work ethic that they should have, and the persevering attitude of never quitting homework just because the servers are down and they can’t 'google' their way out of it. It is education’s function now to teach the young to restrain their egos and instead strengthen that which is lacking in our nation today: character.

Parents and teachers don’t need additional funding to teach the young about the subordination of one’s self and the compulsion for immediate gratification in favor of duty and the greater good. Good education also teaches us that words and actions have consequences. Just because you’re free to air your views on Facebook doesn’t mean you should. It also teaches us that while it is fashionable today to act and look cynical, the same merely betrays a facade for brainlessness.

Education isn’t there merely to transmit information. If that’s all there is then why go to school in the first place? Just go to Fully Booked or Powerbooks. It’s cheaper. But we enroll in school for much much more than acquiring information.

Every society, as well as every profession, would have its own rules. Politicians, journalists, artists, and (surprisingly) even lawyers do. We go to school to know the rules of how to do what we’re supposed to do. It’s the way you research, study, listen, and take notes. The way to debate without being a jerk. To have self-discipline and restraint. To be able to express oneself coherently, with logic and correct grammar. To commit oneself to words spoken. To couple creativity with craftsmanship. To motivate oneself without attention grabbing chick flick moments. To know how to handle pressure gracefully. Law students nowadays loudly whine about being harassed during recitation, saying that they can’t think while someone is yelling at them. And they think it’s easier in an actual courtroom?

Education teaches us (or should be teaching us) the necessary habits, attitudes, and practices. Considering that great men and women also went through the same things, education, while keeping in mind the respect for what the students are, should also emphasize to students respect for what they must do.

If our educational system isn’t doing that, then it’s failing.

In the end, however, there is something the young can’t be taught and which they have to learn on their own: the desire to learn and to better themselves. If they can’t do that, then, fine, might as well let Chiz become president."